Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mozilla's new version policy

With Firefox 4 Mozilla introduced their new release policy, which basically means a new release every quarter, and also changing the major version number with every such release. Thus we got Firefox 6 only yesterday.

Since I'm not an enterprise, I do not have a problem with quarterly releases... some IT organizations do.
Also, I personally couldn't care less if they call their releases 4, 5, 6, 7, or Bob, Frank, Josephina, ... or IV/2011, X/2011, Fall 09... whatever.

If it were not for the add-ons... Usually you test an add-on you develop against a certain release, and also declare this in the install.rdf:

<!-- Thunderbird -->

In the past you knew that the architecture would be stable for a major release, so if you'd tested successfully against a late Thunderbird 3 beta you could increase the maxVersion to "3+". And you'd not have to bother for the next 18 month, until the next major version would go to alpha or beta, you'd have a look at it, test your add-on against it, maybe a tweak here or there, and voila, maxVersion++; and publish it.

Now, you have to do this every 3 months; since everything is now a major version, you either have to declare the add-on as universally compatible (and it might break with version 8) or you have to update the install.rdf every 3 month. Even if there is no major change in Firefox or Thunderbird (as this week with v6).

From a users perspective the same happens, with every update you'll see a couple of add-ons as "incompatible" and disabled. And you either go to your profile and patch the install.rdf (which is what I do) or you have to wait a couple of days (at least) until the developers publish the new "version".

True for both Firefox and Thunderbird.
Somewhat annoying. There's a reason why the separation of major and minor version number has been introduced a couple of decades ago...

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